Tim Hertach exemplifies many of the qualities and traits needed to be a good leader and influence others. He shows integrity and confidence, is forward-thinking and competent. In addition, he seems to be an effective manager, receiving an overall positive evaluation and reinforcement from his senior partners. Though this would suggest he holds some personal power with upper management, he is unable to influence the two recent issues described in the case. Hertach needed to focus on two general ways in which he could have better influenced his senior partners: through his personal leader development and tactical approach.
The first would have taken time prior to the introduction of either issue: evaluate and improve his EQ (emotional intelligence).
He needed to evaluate his strengths and weaknesses, and in-turn work to gain personal power and empowerment from his senior managers. In truth, he needed to have focused on this from the point that he became partner. The second again involves his EQ but focuses on his immediate reaction and approach in the moment. Hertach needed to better evaluate his tactical approach in influencing upward before responding in the revaluation meeting or sending the initial email questioning past practices.
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Regarding his personal power development at GLC, Hertach needed to improve his relationship management and social awareness. Understanding the GLC culture and his superiors (the senior partners), should have been something Hertach did from the moment he was promoted. With a stronger EQ he may have done this and would have realized that not all styles of leadership are successful in every situation. He also would have realized that he would need to adapt his own style when dealing with the senior partners. New principal, Joe Clark in Lean on Me experiences this same phenomenon.
Though in Clark’s case he is managing downward, he also takes a Theory X, assertive leading approach. Like Hertach, Clark’s staff does not react well to this style of leading. However by the end of the film Clark changes his approach to group cooperation and is much more successful. Understanding his staff helped him realize he needed to adapt his style of leading. This could also work in leading and influencing upward for Hertach. Hertach is described as a strong-willed leader who takes pride in his “blunt” approach with clients.
His honesty, filled with rationality and logic, seems to be generally appreciated by clients. However, he attempts these same tactics with his senior partners and is ignored. The difference between his clients and his senior partners is trust. Expertise presented in the correct way, can be an avenue for influencing upward as is seen in the film Erin Brockovich, especially if the person presenting seems to care deeply about the cause. Brockovich, though brash in her approach is able to show her knowledge and affection for her clients and gains credibility that way.
Hertach was not communicating to the senior partners in the most efficient way for his audience. Understanding the management and communication styles of superiors is important. Not to mention that, like Tom Green in Challenge The Boss or Stand Down, a subordinate should never challenge upper management in a public forum. Even with the evidence to support his opinions, Hertach’s ideas would not have been considered. He caused humiliation and anxiety in a public situation, effectively losing any trust he may have had with the senior partners presenting and those present in the meeting.
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Likewise, Hertach should not have included the CEO on the email to the two senior partners regarding the unethical billing practices. Building trust requires building relationships. Hertach needed to manage and develop relationships with the senior partners. In an environment such as GLC, where a large amount of hires occur internally and the culture emphasizes “friendly” communication, internal relationships are key to gaining personal power. To effectively influence, it would also benefit him to be “liked” by the senior partners.
He did focus on one relationship with Morton, however Morton’s lack of history at the firm (as he was an outside hire) could suggest that he does not hold as much power as other senior partners. Though Hertach gets along well with him and they develop some loyalty towards each other, he should have focused on gaining support from other senior partners as well. Another facet of this audience includes his peers, the other partners. Many partners and managers beneath him had agreed privately with his concerns. He should have organized support within this group.
Perhaps a coalition could have more effectively presented a united front and opinion to the senior partners. Had Hertach improved his EQ, chosen a different forum and approach, he would still have needed to employ better influencing and persuasive tactics to succeed in managing up. He did employ rationality, which gave him a certain level of credibility. As described in the Managing Up article reasoning and logic are valued highly in our society and researchers indeed found that managers who use reason more than other managers tend to be regarded as higher performing.
Perhaps if Hertach had combined this with the ingratiation tactic, he would have been more successful. Because he did not have existing relationships, he should have focused on influencing tactics that could engender trust with his senior partners in short period of time. Hertach should have made himself seem less threatening and avoided assertiveness. He could have tried to speak with any of the senior partners after hours in a non-work related atmosphere and tried to find commonalities on a more personal level.
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In Challenge the Boss or Stand Down, Tom Green makes this type of connection with a VP at a training session which eventually leads to a job opportunity. Finding common ground and making a connection with Shannon prompts a conversation where he impresses her. This idea is further confirmed by the theory in The Science of Persuasion which outlines tendencies of human behavior that can affect a positive response in influencing or persuading. One of the tendencies described that also applies to this idea is Liking. Hertach should have kept this in mind when trying to influence his senior partners.
The Science of Persuasion article explains that people prefer to say yes to those they like. Creating connections or relationships with his senior partners and finding similarities as explained above, leads to liking. Directness or assertiveness can have the opposite effect, placing people on the defensive and essentially distancing oneself from them. Hertach should have chosen more positive routes to be perceived as likeable. Compliments and cooperation, for example, could have helped in influencing, or they may not have.
Either way, Hertach did not have good impression management which affected the senior partners’ response to his concerns. At the present point, Hertach would need to evaluate how his actions have affected his potential within GLC and whether they could help dictate his future success. His interactions with the senior partners and approach in these two situations may have resulted in permanent resentment and distrust. Likely the senior partners, as a group, are loyal to one another. It is also fair to assume that they are not leaving any time soon.
The forecasted 6 senior partners expected to leave the firm after the revaluation plan was put into effect, did not. Creating a poor rapport with those persons that hold positional power in the company, is not the way to gain personal power or succeed, and Hertach may have caused irreparable damage. Next, Hertach needs to think about his fit within the company and office culture. His concerns are valid. The company could suffer financially under the new revaluation program and the billing practices are unethical. Unfortunately, it does not look like GLC is the type of culture that embraces change.
While investigating the billing practices, there are many people who knew about the practices and said nothing, or did not see a problem with them. As the reinforcement theory suggests, when accepted behavior is rewarded that same behavior will continue. Perhaps if he held greater positional power, Hertach would be more successful in changing GLC, but it seems this behavior has been widely accepted and taught within GLC. He has two options: he can apologize and try to gain back trust; or he can go into a line of work that seems to fit his style better. I would suggest the latter.
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Dorel Juvenile Group is a consumer products company and I’ve learned a great deal from my experience over the past three years. Tim Hertach’s honest, ethical and expert leading style is exactly what a company looks for in someone who runs their own operation and as a consultant. He would create his own schedule, terms, and continue to advise clients. Hertach’s client relationships are a strength. If he employs the same tactics on an individual consulting level, he would be able to self-manage and his clients would continue to be the ones who would empower him.